Hard on the heels of the Gezi Park riots I was swept away by a generous friend to this…paradise—— My patron is a mensch, a person who is good for no reason. After a summer of civil unrest in Istanbul– tanks and police in the streets, shootings, horrible clouds of gas, sirens and chanting, frantic screaming crowds pouring nightly into my neighborhood just a half-mile from the park— he made it possible for me to fly away to this legendary place only dreamed of, to become for a time part of the dream.
HICHAM IN THE CAR
Ride from Casablanca to Marrakech — My eyes stretching—— I had never been there before and hit the ground drawing. My sister Penelope was flying in the next day. Hicham, who managed my friend’s riad, was our guide & driver and became a friend.
Doorway to a passage…a typical alley in the Souk…whole families riding on motorbikes, many smiles—— For obvious reasons, the Souk really lent itself to vertical compositions. The Souk of Marrakech, the marketplace, is a big noisy warren of narrow streets and mystery.
DAGGERS AT MUSEE SAID
Courtyard at Musee Said: Real daggers but I lost interest in the guns when I learned they were theater- an Arab “Wild West” show——
BURNING THE HEADS
Smoke, shut doors & faces – Death all around on Kurban Bayram – The sheeps’ heads are burned until they are white bone—— Kurban Bayram down and dirty, right in the street. The curly horns become every kind of bauble, inspiring the curlicue motif seen everywhere.
EVERYBODY IN THE SQUARE
Cafe Française – or “Everybody comes to Rick’s.” – I see this face a lot – Incredibly ugly mother-daughter duo ogled by man in wife-beater—— At this cafe I felt a new appreciation for the production designers on “Casablanca,” as they nailed it.
THE OLD HAMAM
Crumbling to powder in the sun, it runs the entire length of one narrow street in the Souk.
BLUE BAMBOO PAVILION
Cobalt blue pavilion at Jardin Majorelle—— Created over a lifetime by French artist Jacques Majorelle, this huge garden was derelict after he died, until it was restored in the ‘80s by Yves StLaurent and his partner Pierre Berge, who turned it into a Berber dream. Cobalt shading to violet, lemon yellow and pale green pavilions housing art and fashion in a fabulous wonderland of bamboo, cactus, fountains and ponds.
At the museum Jardin Majorelle—— A black mirrored room roofed by stars made by holes punched in the roof, and these life-sized black velvet mannikins lit by white spots, each wearing the treasure of an entire family.
Up on the roof – Riad Bell – #20—— Our official guide and driver. His father was Tuareg and his mother Berber, with pink cheeks and blonde hair. Hicham was born in the Souk and knew everything and everyone and how to get everywhere. And when Penny got food poisoning, he knew how to fix it.
Pretty Fadewa with braces—— Our maid was very proud of her grille. I saw many braces, and I thought they were some new government program until told they were fashion.
FORTIFICATION AT OSSAURIA
Cannon at Ossauria, 500-year-old fortifications, and a boat called “Los Angeles”——- Hicham drove my sister Penelope and me all the way out there to see this.
GOATS IN TREES
GOATS IN TREES ENTIRE
Taliwaugh (g)Hala – Goats in trees! – Dark gold land, ragged green trees with goats in them—— Schoolgirls & a factory – Domed old mosque – People on Donkeys – Shepherd – Donkey cart – Camel Plow – The trees are Argan trees, which goats find delicious. They eat the Argan nuts, and some goat alchemy renders them into a magical substance, after which they’re passed out to be cleaned and sterilized and processed into Argan Oil. Seriously.
A happy little orange cat on the stone riverbank below our cafe – Dance forever in the sun, little kitty—— A whole picnic of Chinese tourists were also vastly entertained. Oh, if he is sill alive he is only eight years old. I hope he is dancing still.
THE SOUK FROM THE ROOF
Morning—— Drawing from dawn. I love this picture
On top of Riad Bell.
SNAKES & A MONKEY
Zeytuna the Capuchin monkey – Neither of us chose this intimacy- It was thrust upon us!—— I’m drawing Zeytuna as she chatters angrily on my shoulder, where she was thrust by her owner as he demanded cash. I paid him a bit, as I did get this drawing. The snake seemed ill.
SEVEN ARCS PASSAGE
In the neighborhood of Kenaria – Herboristene Berber—— A Berber herb shop- an apothecary- in the Souk. These fellows were very happy to have their pictures drawn, and immediately put them up on their phones.
THE TREE IN THE SOUK
Right in the middle of the marketplace! Shopkeepers and onlookers proudly told me that this tree is over 200 years old. Coming from Istanbul, where they routinely crown and kill trees, this was a miracle.
Saw this on the mountain near the happy cat. A little whirligig spins the falling water from a stream onto the bottles nearby. I’ve since seen this in Istanbul.
DAWN CLOUDS AT ATLAS KABE
Great shoals of cloud massed against the mountains—— Hicham & I set out before dawn, to see this as we left Marrakech. Atlas Kabe- the High Atlas- keeps the rain from reaching the Sahara, which is why it’s a desert.
Breakfast in a mountain village up in the cloud. Ground beef cooked with tomato & red onions held us all day—— And outside, the cooling grey rain. This cafe was huge and spacious, made as a refuge from the heat. In the mirror at center, I’m drawing the entrance & these two takes on Hicham.
ATLAS KABE 1: INTO THE CLOUD
ATLAS KABE 1 ENTIRE
No umbrellas here! – Little kids in yellow rain gear – Red and yellow land edged with gold -Then forest topped with rock, olive & cactus -the occasional round explosion of palm trees – Then we drove into the cloud——
ATLAS KABE 2: LONE TREE
ATLAS KABE 2 ENTIRE
Terraces – spines of mountains – many barren steep hillsides and on each one tree—— harbingers of the Sahara.
ATLAS KABE 3: WOMEN IN MAGENTA
ATLAS KABE 3 ENTIRE
Atlas Kabe — The Sahara exists because the mountains hold back the clouds. Here they are, doing it — Altitude 2260 meters — 2 women in magenta hijab —- In a cleft of a barren mountainside one gnarled tree — Peach colored land —- A bare round rock with a house on top — Villages set into barren mountainsides in the lush deltas above rivers and on the spines of the mountains themselves—— High up through drifts of cloud to the summit, Looking straight out at the dark grey sheer wall of a mountain, and far below the tiny thread of a river in a smear of sunny green.
THE KASBAH AT AIT BEN HADDOU
At Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco, from the mountain above — 25 October 2013——- From all the way up to all the way down- and on the desert side this oasis city at the foot of Atlas Kabe. Hicham left me on the side of the hill for three blissful hours to draw this crescendo of fabulous sand castles at the edge of the desert. Some are Byzantine vintage, others more recent. Later I walked through them, sandstone chambers opening one onto another. This has been a trading center for centuries.
STREET IN THE KASBAH
A guesthouse in the Kasbah at Ait Ben Haddou——-
I love camels, they look so insouciant. This one was posing for tourist photos.
VILLAGE ON THE WAY HOME
A village at the Sahara Foot of the mountains——- Happy but too tired to talk as we returned. Hicham pulled the car off the road so I could get this fast take on a pristine little village.
KASBAH GATE LONGSHOT
Bab Agnaou—— Back in Marrakech: The storks live here all the year round, and love this gate into the old residential section of Marrakech- the Kasbah.
THE KASBAH GATE
When at lat I walked into this drawing, I showed it to the little girl standing up on the blocks, legs akimbo. I wondered if it had been all right to draw here, but she threw her arms up around my neck and kissed me. A beautiful child! – I November 2013 – 12 Century – Bilaris—— Bab Agnaou: Walking into the drawing after hours of creation is my cherished custom, only possible with plain air. The actual gate is 12thCentury, the sandstone stone decorations much more recent. Was Bilaris the name of the little girl? I hope so.
THE MUSIC MAKER
Mustafa, Bassist—— I spent hours in his shop drawing him and his wonderful instruments. He could play every one of them.
PENELOPE AT TIMTAM HOUSE
Penny & Mimi [Cat] in the garden at TimTam House – Marrakech – October 2013—— Penny’s expression is exactly how we felt, replete with experience in a place both of us had longed to visit since we were kids in Echo Park, Los Angeles.
LIKE A PALACE
Jamal Ghalbane —- Abdul & Jamal at Timtam House – Marrakech – 31October 2013——The whole of TimTam House, with passages and gardens and archways and palatial spaces, is subsumed into the Souk. It was a residence, and now this part is a carpet shop. Its exquisite decoration, all tile and filigree, was done after WWII.
THE TIMTAM DOOR
Original 19thCentury door of the Minister of Justice, who built TimTam House, now subsumed into the Berber Market in Marrakech. What the supplicants saw—— Imagine many frantic knockings on balmy nights and in storms on this massive wooden door, portal to justice. Penny had already flown out and it was my last day, so I wrapped things up with this.